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tv   Earth Focus  LINKTV  August 11, 2013 3:30pm-4:01pm PDT

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[captioning made possible by kcet television] >> today on "earth focus," africa adapts to a changing climate, creating new models to meet today's environmental challenges, coming up on "earth focus." >> climate change is a broad and far-reaching problem facing africa. >> [shouts] >> so much of the continent's future as a hand-to-mouth agrarian society is dependent on a stable climate. >> climate change is very
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simple. it's the way my grandmother would look at a crop which is growing today in a different way than the way it used to grow a few years ago. it's the way my grandmother would see the way the stream used to flow and the way it is flowing today, and you link that to her life 30 years ago. then you'll be able to understand climate change much more faster. >> here in southern africa, people are considered to be some of the most vulnerable in the world to climate change. >> the african continent is especially vulnerable to climate change. we are most likely to experience rapid climate change
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over the southern african region within the coming century. >> but there's another side to the story. africans are beginning to take the future into their own hands through a series of remarkable initiatives. our team set out on a journey to discover these locally driven projects that are helping people adapt to climate change. established in 1962, the gobabeb training and research centre sits at the edge of the namib dunes sea on the banks of the kuiseb river. mary seely is a naturalized namibian and a member of the station's management committee who has been working here since 1967. >> global science is going on throughout the world, and gobabeb is, of course, a
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sought-after location because it's thought to be quite isolated and not being influenced by a lot of industry and other human activity. [wind whistling] >> local topnaar communities, namibian scientists, and researchers from around the globe come here to gather data on how to live sustainably with our environment. miya kabajani and american scientist christine grummon collect climate data here for noaa, the united states' national oceanic and atmospheric administration. >> they have these monitoring sites all over the world, and the namib desert is a site where their sampling is done for carbon dioxide.
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>> the air sample from this high pole is stored in these bottles and sent back to noaa in colorado for analysis. the data is used by scientists like francois engelbrecht of south africa's center for scientific and industrial research to track and model the effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions. the data shows the global temperature has increased by about one degree celsius in the last century. >> now, what is natural for the planet? when the planet moves from an ice ace into a warmer phase, then temperature tends to increase globally at a rate of about one degree celsius every thousand years, perhaps 2,000 years. so what we are looking at here is an increase in the global temperature that is taking place at a rate that is about 10 times faster than any natural process.
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>> to understand the future of the climate of southern africa, engelbrecht runs a regional climate model using the biggest computers in africa. the evidence suggests that southern africa will experience double the average annual global rise in temperature. >> even if the world is successful in restraining the global rising temperature to two degrees celsius, then it still means a 4-degree temperature increase for the southern african region. [ticking] >> this type of dramatic change has huge food security implications for southern africa. higher regional temperatures mean growing seasons are shifting, and rains are becoming more unpredictable. it's one way the regional climate is becoming more like
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the namib desert. at gobabeb, the climate is so variable that some years, it does not rain at all. >> we need to find ways in which we are going to adapt to those changes and be able to survive, and we need to do that wisely because otherwise, we just won't make it. >> we have to look towards planning, and one of the things we've been very involved in is helping communities to establish what we call forums for integrated resource management. small communities make their own decisions rather than trying to have this centralized overall management where the government comes by and gives out drought relief in the form of food or something like that. [squirting]
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>> this empowers residents to take action and provides information that helps them adapt to a changing climate. [wind blowing] with the right science and the right planning, gobabeb offers hope that we can adapt to climate change. in zambia, farmers have seen growing seasons drastically altered, making their current systems of agriculture break down. in the far north of the country near the town of mpika, the rains have become less dependable. [conversation in foreign language] >> [speaking foreign language]
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>> traditionally, farmers here cut down patches to trees, planted maize for a few years until the soil was depleted, then moved along to the next patch. slash-and-burn agriculture like this is very difficult labor, provides only a bare subsistence level of nourishment, and exposes these farmers to the variability of climate change... >> they are a soil-fertility plant. >> but now there is hope. an agricultural revolution is happening throughout the region led by countries like zambia, which has now adopted a sustainable farming system on a national level that reduces the cost of agricultural supplies and increases food security, allowing farmers to grow crops even when the rains are
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variable. called conservation agriculture, more than 300,000 farmers adopted this new system since the project started in 1999. it is driven by remarkable collaboration between farmers, the ministry of agriculture, and the conservation farming unit, a zambian nongovernmental organization. this sustainable farming incorporates 3 main elements. the first is minimal soil disturbance. conservation farmers like charles mwanyamba don't plow the land up. they make small holes year after year in the same places. this helps water permeate the soil and promotes the growth of beneficial natural tillers, like earthworms. the second is maintaining soil cover. in africa, people often sweep their fields clean, removing the natural crop residues, then make
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a pile of them and burn them. conservation farming teaches them to save this valuable mulch. covering the land stops evaporation, gives nutrients back to the soil, and protects the ground from the torrential rain that sometimes falls here. the third is to intercrop grains with nitrogen-rich legumes, like beans or peanuts, and eventually even trees. in this model field of the golden valley agricultural research trust north of the capital city lusaka, the trees fix nitrogen into the soil. >> this is a technology which should be promoted in africa
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because it can answer a lot of problems to a small-scale farmer. 80% of the food produced for the country comes from a small-scale farmer, and conservation farming can be an answer to some of the most expensive inputs, like the fertilizers, which farmers are really struggling to get to produce food. >> little like this. >> according to the conservation farming unit, farmers increased their crop yields dramatically when they switched to conservation farming. >> a farmer can improve his yields and sustain those improved yields by 4 times, 5 times, 6 times what he was achieving previously on traditional methods. >> charles and his family used to struggle to have enough food to eat, but now things are
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better. >> because i am working very well with this conservation farming, i'm having enough for my family, and my family is happy, as well, eh? >> traditional methods that people have used for generations are changing as people are forced to adapt. >> hey, i changed because of climate changing, see? >> the conservation farming unit has opened offices in malawi, uganda, kenya, and tanzania. this revolution in farming is already creating sustainable livelihoods for farmers in africa and is a working model for the world as it begins to adapt to climate change.
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>> here in the dramatic valleys of the baviaanskloof mountains in the eastern cape of south africa, climate change is a reality. the whole southern african region is warming up and drying out. according to the best scientific data, this trend will become much worse if nothing is done. >> over the last many years, there was a lot of changes which actually could pick up from environmental point of view, so a lot of erosion in the area as well as a drop in the ground water table. we used to plant vegetable seeds, but it's totally dried out now. we can do nothing with this land, and also from a farming point of view, we have less water available for
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irrigation. >> here, environmental destruction is compounding the effects of global climate change. like a green skin covering bones and muscle, spekboom thicket used to shelter this desert land from the harsh sun and violent storms. its protective boughs and roots held 60% of the rain that fell and released it slowly like a sponge throughout the year. that skin, like you can see here on the left of the fence line, has been stripped bare by overgrazing. now water rushes off the bare soil in torrents, causing floods. once the rain stops, the land quickly dries, making the area prone to drought and heat waves. more than 800,000 hectares of spekboom thicket has been severely degraded with disastrous effects for farmers
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in the city of port elizabeth, which relies upon it for water, but people are adapting by finding ways to restore the natural landscape. now the national government-- with the help of nonprofits, businesses, and local residents--has launched a big project called working for water to help bring the spekboom back. >> ha ha ha! hee hee hee! >> rienette colsky is the administrator of the gamtoos irrigation board, which manages the water here and implements the project in the baviaanskloof. >> that project focuses on restoration on spekboom in the spekboom bio. planting spekboom restores that natural vegetation. so it increases the water retention of the earth,
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and that, of course, is very good for restoring your water. >> but spekboom has another remarkable trait. it sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, keeping co2 levels in check and slowing climate change. that's how those involved hope to make spekboom pay for its own restoration. >> the point we have to begin is to plant spekboom. there's a future in it because if we can get payment for carbon credits, it will help the farmers to actually replace the income from farming with animals with something else more sustainable in the long run. i like it. yeah. yeah. this is good... >> right now, the project is supported by the south african government, who are focusing on a more immediate goal-- reducing poverty. south africa's unemployment rate
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is officially 25%, but here, it is as much as 50% or higher. water shortages have reduced agricultural output and the jobs that depend on it, but planting vast areas of land with spekboom requires lots of workers, like team leader johanna swartz, who was unemployed before the project began. >> there's a great change in my life because all the things that i need and i cannot buy before, i can buy it now. i don't struggle with money anymore. there's opportunities that i want to grab, too, things that i love. >> living lands is the local organization that brought farmers, poor residents, private business, and the government together under an umbrella group called presence.
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>> we facilitate the process towards our goal, and that is sustainable land use. it all started with research done for how to plant spekboom, and that involved in this process where you have to look at the whole product-integrated way. it's not only about planting spekboom. it is about restoring the rivers. it's restoring the alluvial fan n which we are sitting here now, and it's also restoring the mind-set of everybody with a stake on the landscape. >> the community has come together in a cohesive group to change the way they utilize their natural resources, and in that way, this little corner of south africa may be a model for a warming world.
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[birds squawking] >> this is a mosaic of wilderness and subsistence agriculture where a million people farm on marginal land exposed to seasonal variability that is the hallmark of climate change. this is also elephant territory. an estimated 140,000 elephants, more than a third of africa's remaining population, call this area home. people and animals share this landscape, and the futures of both are linked to water. now there is a plan to drop national borders and allow everyone to roam without passports across this region where 5 countries meet in the heart of southern africa. it is a plan that helps southern africa's water-stressed countries deal with the effects of climate change by restoring the ecosystems of two major river basins.
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assisted by the south african peace parks foundation, the 5 african countries of angola, botswana, namibia, zambia, and zimbabwe agree in august 2011 to create the kavango zambezi transfrontier conservation area. called the kaza park, it is 29 million hectares, an area about the size of italy. this new plan creates a framework to protect and share these nations' precious water resources and combines the interests of wildlife and people toward a common goal. >> the big objectives of the tca and of the peace parks foundation is to facilitate a process where you look at the management of integrated ecosystems across international boundaries. >> the foundation is a facilitator for a dialogue between all of the stakeholders in the region. >> we hope governments in each of those countries initiate a
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process where you bring together private sector, communities, and government around one time and say, "ok. what do you think is the future of this area?" >> this integrated approach to conservation is vital for semiarid countries facing the combined challenges of food and water security at a time of climate change. it is also vital for protecting the migration routes of the wildlife, and both of these elements are essential for creating sustainable livelihoods in the area. >> animals, they are very important because they make our area beautiful and they keep the ecosystem going, and also they bring in the tourists, thereby giving money to the community. >> one of the pillars of the kaza project is the official protection of the zambezi and kavango rivers.
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>> well, a transboundary river basis, the way i define it is when water, the natural flow of water, intersects an artificial jurisdictional barrier. the former colonial powers used rivers as borders, whereas the previous precolonial dispensation used rivers as means of transport, as means to connect people. >> africa inherited the borders that were created during the colonial era, but the kaza will break down these artificial boundaries and apply a management system that treats it as a whole, helping to secure these two great watersheds from the ravages of climate change, deforestation, and overconsumption. >> if our national economy is a wholly owed subsidiary of our national hydrology, then our global economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of our global ecosystem. so ecosystems matter because actually, this is the life-support system provider for planet earth.
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>> so if both these river catchments are unfortunately located right in the subtropics and that is specifically the part of southern africa that is projected to dry most, this is also the region of southern africa that is projected to warm very rapidly, and these are absolutely drastic rises in the surface temperature. >> the area is already experiencing climatic changes that are making farming more difficult. max is from the etsa community in the northwest of the okavango delta in botswana. >> before, people could rely on farming. nowadays, they can't because the rainfall here is more variable. we used not to have rainfall in winter, like june and july. for the past two years, we have experienced rainfall in those months. that shows that the climate has changed a lot. >> community conservation systems in botswana--like the jakotsha trust, where max
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works--are being used to shape the creation of the kaza. >> it's very important that we implement the kaza plan so that we can try and manage our resource here. >> it's not just about wildlife and conservation. it includes communities and rural farmers in the overall land use plan. >> it can be community areas. it can be game-management area. it can even be agricultural land, providing that whatever is practiced is done in a responsible manner not to the detriment of the environment in the long term. >> by creating financially beneficial alternatives to farming, the kaza plan creates an appropriate, whole-system approach to sustainable land use. the tourism industry is already the biggest employer in the area. everybody involved hopes that the creation of the kaza will bring in even more visitors and in this way bring jobs, training, and a new future to the people who live in and
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around the boundaries of this vast park. as it starts to face the reality of a changing climate, these forward-thinking ideas in transboundary management are being accepted and understood on a regional level here in southern africa. >> instead of having a park where the community is asked to move out of the area, you have a system where the community remains in their area and they are given the rights to manage the area and manage the wildlife to gain an income to benefit their community. >> the elephants have already started to expand their range into the new areas of the park, taking advantage of new water sources in angola during times of rainfall or keeping close to the riverine highways in botswana when rains are less certain, and as such, they are a
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living example of how best to take advantage of a variable climate. [elephant bellows] [captioning made possible by kcet television] [captioned by the national captioning institute]
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>> millions of people set out every year from the country of their birth to start afresh. but of all workers, migrants are among the most vulnerable, and the global recession has played havoc with their hopes and dreams. 50 million jobs could be lost by the end of the year, so migrants have a stark choice between the life they've come to know with all its hardships and


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